Sun Devil Family Sad To Announce Passing Of Coaching Legend Ned Wulk
Nov. 15, 2003
Note: A service and then a celebration reception will be held on Friday, Nov. 21, at 3 p.m. for ASU legendary basketball coach Ned Wulk, who passed away Saturday. The service and reception will be held at Mountain View Lutheran Church, located at 11002 S. 48th Street in Phoenix (85044).
The Arizona State community sends its prayers to the family of Sun Devil coaching legend Ned Wulk, who passed away Saturday in Tempe. Born Aug. 14, 1920, Wulk won 406 games as the head basketball coach at ASU from 1957-82. The Arizona State University athletic department honored its legend as the arena floor where he won a building-record 20 straight contests was renamed 'Ned Wulk Court' on March 6, 1999. Wulk posted amazing success in Tempe, as he was 94-24 (.797) in home contests in the former University Activity Center and continued as a strong supporter of the ASU program upon his retirement in 1982. Wulk, a grandfather to five boys, was inducted into the ASU Hall of Fame in 1982 and the Pac-10 Hall of Honor in 2003.
Coach Wulk is survived by a son, Greg, a daughter, Stephanie Weurding and his companion Evelyn Gilmartin. He also had one great granddaughter.
'It is a sad day not only for Arizona State, but the state of Arizona and the Phoenix community,' says ASU head coach Rob Evans. 'Ned was more than just a great coach. He was a gentleman and a supporter of the program, which I always appreciated. He was also a friend of our staff. His numbers will never be matched at Arizona State, and that is best for the program. Ned Wulk established basketball tradition at Arizona State, one that we want to continue.
'I am glad Ned was able to enjoy his accomplishments after his retirement. In 1999, when we dedicated the court to him, it was one of the best events I have ever attended. The attendance by the former players was fabulous. Last March at the Pac-10 Hall of Honor banquet, we were able to recognize Ned in front of many other legends. On a personal note, I am very glad that the final Arizona State team he saw play, our squad from last year, was a NCAA Tournament team. I know he was proud of that group of student-athletes, and that made our staff proud.
'Words can never express enough at a time like this what a person means to a program. I can tell you Ned meant a lot to me and to our staff. Many of our current players were not born when Ned was coaching, but we have and will continue to remind them of the program he built and the tradition he started in our media guide and in our locker room.'
Wulk, who was 406-272 (.599) in his 25-year run as Sun Devil head coach, was honored at an evening banquet on Friday, March 5, 1999, which was held on the floor of Wells Fargo Arena (formerly UAC). The next afternoon, Wulk was honored by ASU fans, alumni, former players, administrators and family at halftime of the ASU-USC game.
ASU won its first 20 games in the UAC from Dec. 3, 1974 through Jan. 10, 1976, which is still a building record. Three times Wulk's troops won 14 games in its home arena, which remains a record.
At the time of Wulk's 400th victory, he was one among only four active coaches to win 400 games at the same school. One of the others was North Carolina's Dean Smith. His first team had a .500 season, with a 13-13 mark. From there, Wulk guided his teams to 17-9, 16-7, 23-6, 23-4 and 26-3 records in his first five years. In the 25 years Wulk coached at ASU, he had 17 winning seasons and led ASU to nine NCAA Tournaments and two National Invitational Tournaments. His teams were one game away from the Final Four three different times -- 1961, 1963 and 1975. Arizona State has made it to the NCAA Tournament a total of 12 times, and only three were without Wulk (1991, 1995 and 2003).
'I knew him since I was head coach at Marina High School, which was 35 years ago,' says Arizona head coach Lute Olson. 'He was a good friend anda nice man who did a great job at ASU. I'd see him on almost every visit we made to Tempe. He was a very good basketball coach and an outstanding man.'
COACH NED WULK COACHING HIGHLIGHTS AND NOTES
*The Arizona State Christmas Classic was played for the first time in 1963, while Wulk was head coach. The 15 times that ASU competed in the Classic under Wulk, ASU won 11.
*The most ASU wins in a season is 26, which was achieved by Wulk's 1963 team.
*The longest winning streak by any ASU team was 18 by the 1962 club.
*Wulk guided Arizona State to its first top-20 national ranking in just his fifth year as coach. ASU was ranked as high as number three, and the team was nationally ranked six times during his stint.
*He led ASU to Pac-10 runner-up twice in six seasons.
*In the 16 years of play in the Western Atlantic Conference, Wulk's team finished below fifth place only four times, and in the five seasons that ASU was a member of the Border Conference under Wulk, the team finished at the top of the conference four times.
*Prior to the Wulk era, no ASU basketball team had finished higher than third in its conference.
*In his first year at ASU (1957-58), Wulk guided the Sun Devils to a Border Conference title.
*He completed his 25th year at ASU with an upset-victory over undefeated, top-ranked and Pac-10 champion Oregon State and after the 1980-81 season, he was the Pac-10 Conference Coach of the Year runner-up to Oregon State's Ralph Miller.
*The 1979-80 season was one of Wulk's most prolific. The Sun Devils finished 22-7, and second in the Pac-10 at 15-3, with a national top-20 ranking in both wire service polls and an NCAA Tournament berth. Wulk was selected as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year.
*Wulk's coaching career started at Xavier, where he coached for six years and compiled an 89-70 record. Xavier had a winning season the last four years that Wulk was head coach, and also had two National Invitational Tournament appearances.
*A graduate of LaCrosse State Teacher's College in Wisconsin, he was first hired at Xavier as freshman football coach, freshman basketball coach, varsity baseball coach, physical education teacher and intramural director and was then hired as an assistant coach for the varsity basketball team. One week before the first practice started, the head coach was fired. Wulk was hired as the head coach on a temporary, one-year basis.
*Off the court, the Marion, Wis., native was the president (1978) of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). That prestigious position brought Wulk chairmanship of the NABC All-America committee, membership on the Basketball Hall of Fame Board of Trustees, delegate appointment to the U.S. Collegiate Sports Council and membership on the U.S. Olympic Basketball Committee.